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Nunavut's Path

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 Living with COVID-19

Nunavut’s Path was designed to allow us to address the challenges of the pandemic with a thoughtful and cautious approach. Currently, the Government of Nunavut (GN), does not have a Public Health Emergency (PHE) in effect. The GN and Nunavut’s Chief Public Health officer (CPHO), have determined that Nunavut can manage COVID-19 without the powers provided under a Public Health Emergency.

Currently, 90 per cent of Nunavummiut have access to a safe and effective vaccine that offers proven protection against serious illness and death from COVID-19.

The availability of self-testing options in the territory and two years’ worth of education means Nunavummiut now have more tools to protect themselves from COVID-19.

These factors combined provide Nunavummiut with the ability to manage the risk of COVID-19 without the intervention of the Government of Nunavut beyond standard health care services. Moving forward, Nunavummiut are asked to take personal precautions to reduce the risk for respiratory. Please read Nunavut’s Path: moving forward during COVID-19 for more information on how Nunavut will move towards normal living with COVID-19.

Changes and Announcements:

There may be instances where local public health emergencies are declared if an outbreak puts too much strain on health centres. New variants that the vaccines are not effective against could lead to stricter public health measures. If this takes place, Nunavummiut will be notified by updates to the GN website, GN social media, a press briefing and through Public Health Advisory

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it safe to lift the Public Health Emergency (PHE) and public health measures? 
Vaccines are available to Nunavummiut over the age of five and testing options are available in all communities. We also have more knowledge about how to assess and manage our personal risk of getting and transmitting COVID-19. With these tools we are now able to manage the virus as we would any other communicable disease, such as influenza. 

Why is the Government of Nunavut no longer reporting vaccine and case data? Will that data still be available to the public? 
The PHE gave us the ability to report COVID-19 case data to protect public health. As we transition to managing COVID-19 in the context of other health conditions, the reporting will be limited to what is required under the Public Health Act. For example, if there is a need to declare an outbreak, it will be done publicly. We will continue to report case data to the Government of Canada. 

How will the public know if they are at risk of COVID-19 if the GN is no longer reporting numbers? 
Similar to other infectious and communicable diseases (e.g., Influenza), there is always a risk. It is important that Nunavummiut remain vigilant to reduce their risks of getting COVID-19. This means getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, practising good hygiene, and staying home when sick. 

Is there a chance the Public Health Emergency and public health measures will be reinstated? 
We might have instances where we will have to declare localized public health emergencies if outbreaks put too much strain on the health system and public health measures are required. We will also assess the need for measure-based factors such as new variants that the vaccines are not effective against. 

Is it safe to send my kids to school? 
Yes. It is safe to send children to school. As for all Nunavummiut, it is important to manage the risk. Get vaccinated, stay home when sick. 

Why do people with COVID-19 no longer have to isolate? 
Nunavummiut have the tools, such as vaccines and two years of public education to manage the risk of COVID-19. We ask anyone who is sick to do their part and protect their communities by staying home. If you have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19, call the Hotline at 975-8601 or 1-888-975-8601. It is advised that if you test positive, or think you may have COVID-19 and are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated (fewer than two doses) you stay home for 10 days. If you are fully vaccinated it is advised that you stay home for seven days. Additionally, anyone with a high-risk exposure to COVID-19 should self-monitor for 14 days after the break in contact.

I work at a mine, can I enter a Nunavut community? 
There are currently no public restrictions to travel within Nunavut, including between mines and communities. Individuals should contact their employer directly if they have questions regarding COVID-19 specific polices that may be in effect at mine sites across Nunavut, including masking on-site and vaccination requirements.  

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 Masks

Masks are no longer mandatory for the public, but private businesses may continue to require staff and patrons to wear masks. 

Until further notice, the GN will require masks at all GN offices. Masks are also mandatory at all schools, health facilities, Elders’ facilities, and Akausisarvik.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I still have to wear a mask? 
Masks are no longer mandatory in public spaces, however, it is recommended that if you are feeling unwell and can't stay home that you wear a mask. Masks help reduce transmission of COVID-19. Masks continue to be mandatory in all GN offices, health facilities and schools. Instructions for how to use a mask can be found here: How to Use a Mask 

My employer still requires a mask – when can I expect this to be lifted? 
Mask policies are at the discretion of employers.  

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  Vaccination 

All Nunavummiut five years of age and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Currently, Nunavut offers the Moderna SPIKEVAX® for Nunavummiut aged 12 and over the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty mRNA vaccines for those aged 5 and over.  Please visit our COVID-19 Vaccines page to learn more about each one.  

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 Treatment

Treatment is available for COVID-19. Paxlovid™ is an oral antiviral medication effective at reducing the chances of being hospitalized from COVID-19.   

What you should know: 

  • It is available in all Nunavut communities.
  • It is for adults 18+ who are considered high risk for poor outcomes. 
  • Treatment should begin within five days of symptoms starting.
  • Treatment is 3 pills, twice a day, for 5 days.

If you test positive for COVID-19 or believe you have been exposed and are symptomatic contact the COVID-19 hotline to determine if you are eligible to be treated with Paxlovid™. The COVID-19 Hotline will continue to be available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at 1-888-975-8601.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the treatment of COVID-19 work? 
Paxlovid™ is an oral antiviral medication for the treatment of mild COVID-19 in adults 18 and older who are considered at high risk for serious illness. When started within five days of developing symptoms,  Paxlovid™ is effective at reducing the chances of being hospitalized or medevaced due to COVID-19. A full course of Paxlovid™ treatment consists of 3 pills, twice a day, for 5 days.

Is there a treatment for children? 
Currently, the only Health Canada authorized antiviral treatment for COVID-19 is for adults.  

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  Rapid Testing         

COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests are a tool to help detect COVID-19 in our communities. While they are easy to use and give results quickly, they are not perfect. 

These self-tests are not as reliable as other forms of testing. A negative test does not necessarily mean you do not have COVID-19, especially if you have COVID-19-like symptoms, or were in close contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive. This is why, in Nunavut, a negative self-test does not change the recommendations for isolation.

Rapid tests are not recommended if you are not experiencing symptoms. Do not re-use tests. Dispose of them after use. Please note that the fluid used in self tests is harmful and should not be consumed or come in contact with skin.

There are multiple brands of self-tests available and while they are easy to use and do not require assistance from a health care provider, it is important to follow the instructions that come with the test you are using to ensure accurate results. Pay close attention to how to collect the sample and the time you need to wait until you read the results.  

Not following the steps properly, including not waiting long enough or waiting too long to read the test result, can lead to an incorrect result. Note: a faint line is still a positive. 

If you test positive call the COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-867-8601. Do not call the health centre, public health unit or the hospital. Do not go to the hospital, health centre or public health unit unless it is an emergency or your symptoms are too severe to manage on your own. 

If your test is invalid, check to make sure you have followed the directions correctly and test again. 

Changes and Announcements  

Please note that changes or announcements related to vaccines in Nunavut will be announced via this webpage, GN social media, and through a public health advisory or news release.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I get a self test? 
Limited quantities of COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests are available to Nunavummiut through Northern Stores and Arctic Co-ops. At this time, self-tests are not available at the health centres, public health units, the hospital or any Government of Nunavut offices. Northmart will advertise availability and distribution of the tests. Please refer to this factsheet for more information on when to test: Rapid Antigen Self-Test (RAT) for COVID-19 

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  Travel

Travelling by Plane 

Effective June 20, 2022, vaccination will no longer be a requirement to board a plane for a domestic flight in Canada. International travel departing from Canada will not require vaccination status, however vaccination status or valid pre-entry test result is still required for re-entry into Canada. 

Unvaccinated travelers to Nunavut’s communities will no longer be subject to COVID-19 testing.

Wearing a mask will continue to be mandatory.

Please visit COVID-19 Boarding flights and trains in Canada.

Travelling by boat or snowmobile  

There are currently no travel restrictions within Nunavut, including between mines and communities. Individuals are responsible for checking the entry requirements for any travel outside of Nunavut (e.g., Quebec).  

Changes and Announcements  

Please note that changes or announcements related to travel restrictions specific to Nunavut will be announced via this webpage, and through a public health advisory or news release if deemed necessary.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any testing requirements for Nunavut’s Communities?
With the suspension of the vaccination mandate for domestic and outbound travel, the testing accommodation for remote communities is no longer required. The Government of Canada will continue to work with communities, Indigenous groups, provinces and territories, and operators to support remote communities as the pandemic evolves.

Do I have to wear a mask on the plane?
Yes, at this time travellers on federally regulated planes continue to be required to wear a mask throughout their journey except for brief periods (e.g., eating or drinking).

If I am not vaccinated, can I still get a medevac if required? 
Yes. 

Are visitors to Nunavut communities via cruise ships vaccinated?
Yes, given the unique nature of cruise ships, including the fact that passengers are in close contact with each other for extended periods of time, vaccination against COVID-19 is still required for passengers and crew on cruise ships.

Learn more about regulations related to cruise ships on the federal government website: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/cruise

Canada doesn’t require vaccination status for departing flights, does that mean, I can enter Canada without vaccination status?
This change does not affect border measures that require all travellers entering Canada to continue following entry requirements, including vaccination or a valid pre-entry test result, remain subject to Day 1 and Day 8 molecular testing, and quarantine for 14 days. Please visits the federal government website for more information: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/

It is your responsibility to check the entry requirements of other countries. 

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 How to obtain proof of vaccination

Proof of vaccination (PVC) can be obtained by e-mailing vaccineexemptions@gov.nu.ca. If you have limited access to the internet, your PVC can be obtained in person at your local health centre, Iqaluit Public Health or Qikiqtani General Hospital.

Unvaccinated individuals, or those without their PVC, must undergo COVID-19 testing at the airport prior to boarding their flight. Passengers departing from any Nunavut community outside of Iqaluit are not subject to testing requirements at this time.

National standards and requirements are subject to change. Nunavummiut are reminded to research federal public health restrictions and proof of vaccination requirements before travelling.

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COVID-19 Hotline 

The COVID-19 Hotline is available from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Before you call the hotline, please review this page to see if the information you need is available here. 

Hotline: 975-8601 or 1-888-975-8601.
 
When to call: 

  • When you have general questions about COVID-19.
  • When you have questions about symptoms, isolation, and self-monitoring recommendations.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19.
  • If you have any questions related to COVID-19. If you have COVID-19, with your verbal consent, the nurse may screen you to see if you may be eligible to receive treatment. 
  • If you have questions about travel that are not answered on this page.

Remember, if you need help in an emergency, call or go to your local hospital or health centre. Travelling safely during the pandemic can be complicated. There are federal travel rules, proof of vaccination, rapid tests, and public health measures to consider. 

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